A plan to revitalize downtown Durant - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

A plan to revitalize downtown Durant

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Ron Drake has ideas about revitalizing downtown Durant. (KTEN) Ron Drake has ideas about revitalizing downtown Durant. (KTEN)
Empty spaces above retail shops in downtown Durant offer opportunities for residential lofts. (KTEN) Empty spaces above retail shops in downtown Durant offer opportunities for residential lofts. (KTEN)
"The more life we bring into downtown, the more chances the town has to grow," small town advocate Ron Drake said. (KTEN) "The more life we bring into downtown, the more chances the town has to grow," small town advocate Ron Drake said. (KTEN)
The upper floors of commercial buildings in downtown Durant offer opportunities for residential lofts. (KTEN) The upper floors of commercial buildings in downtown Durant offer opportunities for residential lofts. (KTEN)

DURANT, Okla. -- We've all heard of house-flipping… but what about town-flipping?

Ron Drake is jump-starting Durant’s downtown, which is getting ready for its own extreme makeover.

“I believe the downtown is a heart of a community; it's a heart of America, and I guess I'm kinda like a heart surgeon," Drake said. "None of us can grow without a healthy heart, so I believe the same things with towns. So the more vibrancy... the more life we bring into downtown... the more chances the town has to grow."

Drake, who authored the book Flip this Town, was brought on board by leaders of Imagine Durant and Durant Main Street. Their goal: To keep growing Durant's downtown district by incorporating new loft living to the second stories of businesses.

"For the past two years, we've had 18 businesses open up in downtown,” said Durant Main Street executive director Stephanie Gardner. “We really felt like the next piece of that was residential development."

“A lot of people are looking for that modern industrial style living, and it made sense for us to partner with Durant Main Street and start working on bringing downtown residential development,” Imagine Durant executive director Kara Byrd added.

From breaking down costs to literally breaking down walls, Ron Drake works with small towns to figure out how to make projects like these easy and affordable.

“Small towns are dying, and I believe we can stop that,” Drake said. “Doing things like this and bringing residential areas to downtown is definitely a way to help with it."

Durant Main Street says that once those new living options are added -- along with retail and dining -- Durant's downtown district will be on its way to becoming a new hot spot in the next few years.

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